A Guide Through the Legal Jungle Trivia Question
one of the following sports organizations first coined the phrase March Madness
to describe an athletic tournament?
A. Illinois High School Association
B. National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)
D. National Basketball Association (NBA)
The correct answer is A. The Illinois High
School Association (IHSA) was the first to use the term March Madness in the
early 1940s for its basketball championship tournament. If you selected B, the
National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), that’s a good guess. However,
the NCAA did not begin using March Madness to describe its college basketball
tournament until 1982. The IHSA made the mistake of not immediately objecting
to the NCAA’s use. The IHSA did finally file a lawsuit in the early 1990’s when
the NCAA began licensing the term March Madness for use on products and
services. The IHSA lost the lawsuit.
March Madness functions as a trademark. One requirement of trademark owners is that they "police" others who use their trademarks. Since the IHSA was lax in objecting to the NCAA’s usage of March Madness, it forfeited the right to be the exclusive user of the term.